The weeks before we were due to fly to Osaka, we have been monitoring the website for the sakura forecast in Japan. Things were looking good when it was more or less confirmed that the full bloom in Kyoto was set to be on the 8th of April.
We arrived in Japan on the 7th of April. For the 1 week we were there, everywhere was dotted with white and pink petals of the sakura.
The most common sakura is the Somei Yoshino (Yoshino Cherry), slightly pink, almost white and 5-petaled blossom. Colours range from white, pinkish white and pink.
The Weeping Cherry (Shidarezakura) is my favourite! Their slender and flexible branches lead them to gracefully weep and sometimes almost kissing the ground. They are usually a focal point in a landscape, with their big black limbs holding up an umbrella-shape crown of flowers
This is also the time where some temples will open at night for viewing sakura illuminated at night. We went to Kiyomizu Temple for night viewing.
Sakura along the river or canal exudes romance. Some of the best spots in Kyoto are at the Philosopher’s path and those around Pontocho alley including Kamo-gawa river.
Do allocate some time for Hanami which means cherry blossom viewing party. We had ours at Maruyama park. There are many stalls with tables and chairs with cushions set up in the park. You can choose the expensive or cheap option of Hanami here.
Option 1: Grab a cozy table under the big sakura tree and order drinks and foods at a stall. Note that there’s a table charge on top of the food when you sit here. Table charge was 500 Yen per person. We ordered a Sapporo beer and edamame and it cost us about 2,500 Yen.
Option 2: A cheaper option is to buy your own food at a convenience store, bring your own mat and find a spot for your own Hanami picnic. However, it gets really crowded during full bloom and those nicer spots aka those under the sakura will get choped fast so you may want to go early.
We were blessed to be in Japan at the right time where the Sakura trees were in full bloom. The atmosphere for that whole week was very festive. There are many sites that offer sakura blooming forecast and you may want to check it out while planning your trip.